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NCAA Football

Power Ranking Top Heisman Trophy Candidates Through Week 15

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Top 10 Heisman Trophy Candidates Through Week 15

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Jerry Lai-USA TODAY SPORTS

The 2013 college football regular season is over, but the award season is just heating up, and that includes the best individual award in sports, the Heisman Trophy. 2013 was shaping up as the year of the quarterback, and it still may go to a quarterback this December as 11 of the past 13 winners played that position, but some running backs are making some noise.

The SEC, the nation’s premier conference, boasts the most players in the award race with three, and has claimed four Heismans in the past six years. The ACC and Pac12 each placed two players inside the top 10. The Big Ten, MAC and Mountain West each had one representative.

You won’t see preseason favorites like Teddy Bridgewater, Todd Gurley, Aaron Murray or Jadeveon Clowney on this list as they have failed to meet the necessary criteria to be on the list at this point. Injuries, inconsistency and a general lack of “wow” plays are reasons why they didn’t make the cut.

This list is guaranteed to fluctuate depending on the performances of some players who will play in their conference title games, so a big Week 15 could propel a player into the top spot. Here are the top 10 candidates for the Heisman trophy entering Week 15. The 79th annual Heisman Memorial Trophy presentation is Saturday Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. ET from the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City.

Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.

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10. Derek Carr -- Fresno State

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr would likely be a couple spots higher if Fresno State was still undefeated, but his gaudy passing statistics still have him inside the top-10. He is completing 70.3 percent of his passes, and has 4,463 yards with 45 touchdowns to only five interceptions. He has thrown for 1,041 yards and 13 touchdowns in his last two games.

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9. Marcus Mariota -- Oregon

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Mariota was the front-runner for the award earlier in the season before Oregon lost to Stanford. He has battled a sprained MCL which has taken away from his early-season prolific rushing totals, and the Duck's 2-2 record in November means Mariota is on the outside looking in for the award this season. Mariota did announce on Tuesday that he will return for the 2014 season, and will be on the shortlist for next year's award.

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8. Johnny Manziel -- Texas A&M

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel had a chance to be join Archie Griffin, but two stinkers against LSU and Missouri in which his team went 0-2 ended those dreams. He has 13 interceptions on the year and hasn't been the same electrifying runner as he was a season ago, but maybe he'll follow Mariota and return for 2014 and go for a second Heisman?

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7. A.J. McCarron -- Alabama

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

After A.J. McCarron connected with Amari Cooper on a 99-yard touchdown late in the Iron Bowl, some had wondered if that was his Heisman moment where he would ascend to the top spot for the award. I never thought he should be in that position because it's not a lifetime achievement award, and his stats just don't compare to other candidates. He does deserve a ton of credit for what he's accomplished, but just doesn't deserve the Heisman.

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6. Tre-Mason -- Auburn

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Tre Mason has been the focal point to the No. 2 rushing attack in the country and has six 100-yard rushing performances in the last seven games. He has been a touchdown machine for Auburn, having scored 18 touchdowns this season. Another monster game in the SEC Championship Game vs. Missouri could boost him enough to get an invite.

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5. Ka'Deem Carey -- Arizona

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Ron Chenoy - USA TODAY Sports

If not for missing the season opener for disciplinary reasons vs. Northern Arizona, Ka'Deem Carey would be closing in on 2,000 yards for Arizona one year after leading the country with 1,929 yards. He has 1,1716 yards and has run for more than 100 yards in every game. His lowest output this season was 119 at Colorado, when he ran four a season-high four touchdowns.

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4. Braxton Miller -- Ohio State

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Miller was a preseason favorite for this award, but an early-season injury that saw him leave after two pass attempts and one run vs. San Diego State had dropped the Ohio State dual-threat quarterback from contention. However, he has been outstanding for the undefeated Buckeyes since returning from injury (27 total touchdowns and four, 100-yard rushing games) and is closing strong with six passing touchdowns, 481 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the last three games.

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3. Andre Williams -- Boston College

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Not many people outside Boston College knew about Andre Williams entering this season, and even they couldn't envision him rushing for 2,102 yards after only running for 584 last season. His college career rushing total was 1,562, which he needed 10 games to surpass. He has five games with more than 200 yards, including a whopping 339 vs. NC State. What could cost him the award is leaving the season finale vs. Syracuse with an injury after nine carries and 29 yards.

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2. Jordan Lynch -- Northern Illinois

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Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch is the Tim Tebow of the MAC. Lynch has lost one game (Florida State in the Orange Bowl) since the 2012 season opener, and is in position to have NIU in a BCS bowl for a second year in a row with one more win. His 1,755 rushing yards is tied for second in the country behind Williams, and he has two more games to add to that total. His 20 touchdowns is one more than Mason and two more than Carey and Williams. His 2,477 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions are comparable with Miller and McCarron. The knock on Lynch is the level of competition he faces, but you can't turn a blind eye to the gaudy stats he's amassed.

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1. Jameis Winston -- Florida State

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jameis Winston has been the most consistent player among the high-profile quarterbacks all season long for the No. 1 ranked Seminoles, and could be the first freshman quarterback to win a national title. Winston leads the country in adjusted quarterback rating at 91.9, ranks second in yards-per-attempt with 11, third in the nation with 35 touchdowns, 11th with 3,490 yards, and has just eight interceptions. He's been the front-runner since he threw for 444 and three touchdowns in a 51-14 win at Clemson, and has been the best player on the field.

The only things that could potentially keep him from winning is an ongoing criminal investigation into a sexual assault. Could voters be shy to name him the winner with that lingering over his head? I don't think so, and that's why he's the leader entering Week 15.